Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and The Americans with Disability Act (ADA) as amended, are what govern post-secondary institutions responsibilities to individuals with disabilities. Both acts are aimed at preventing discrimination against individuals based on their disability and are what direct UT’s scope of providing equal educational opportunities for all qualified students with disabilities.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was the first law to specifically address the needs of students with disabilities. It states in part:
No qualified student with a disability shall, on the basis of disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or otherwise be subjected to discrimination under any … postsecondary education program or activity … [Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504, 84.43]
An institution shall make such modifications to its academic requirements as are necessary to ensure that such requirements do not discriminate or have the effect of discrimination on the basis of handicap, against a qualified handicapped applicant or student … Modifications may include changes in the length of time permitted for the completion of degree requirements, substitution of specific courses required for the completion of degree requirements, and adaptation of the manner in which specific courses are conducted. [Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504, 84.44]
The ADA was passed in 1990 to support and supplement existing disability laws, including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. ADA legislation seeks to assure equal access for persons with disabilities in the areas of education, training, and employment. The mandates of the ADA apply to all institutions of higher education, regardless of the receipt of federal funds.
Under the ADA, a person with a disability is defined as any person who:
- Has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities.
- Has a record of such impairment.
- Is regarded as having such an impairment